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Posted Feb 12, 2004

Installation Cookbooks: Installing Oracle9i Developer Suite

By Steve Callan

Previous articles in this series covered installing a database product (Oracle9i) and a development tool (Forms & Reports 6i). For the most part, those installations - just using what Oracle provides in its hundreds of pages long installation guide - are fairly straightforward. With a fair amount of UNIX administration skills (a proficiency roughly based on the level of having taken Sun's Solaris two admin courses and/or Solaris Fundamentals), most people can muddle through Oracle product installations on their first one or two attempts. But what happens when you run into the occasional lemon-like installation guide, such as the one Oracle produced for Oracle9i Developer Suite (iDS)?

As an example of the problems contained in the guide (including the release notes and other notes/FAQs/cookbook documents from Oracle), there is no mention of environment variables needed to be able to actually use iDS. The environment variables required go above and beyond ORACLE_BASE, ORACLE_HOME, and LD_LIBRARY_PATH, to name just a few of the more commonly used variables. iDS requires "new" variables such as FORMS90_CLASSPATH and FORMS90_BUILDER_CLASSPATH. Moreover, even the more commonly used variables require new directories such as ORACLE_HOME/jlib.

UNIX users of this product were left high and dry with respect to "divining" these new variables and changes to some of the old ones. A TAR (technical assistance request) filed with Oracle Support Services (via MetaLink) regarding the dearth of information about environment variables resulted in an answer of "use the online help in Developer Suite to get information about required environment variables." That response, being so useless and incorrect, demonstrated one thing: the support analyst had never tried installing iDS for himself because the variables shown in the online help were only of the TK (toolkit) variety - which have absolutely nothing to do with getting iDS to run in the first place.A scouring of technical notes on MetaLink yielded some information on what variables were required for users installing the Windows version of iDS. Fortunately, those happened to be the same variables needed for Solaris installations (they are included at the end of this article). It was the idea of applying an installation methodology that inspired me to use the list of variables for Windows in my UNIX environment. I knew what had to be done (have a properly configured user environment), but initially, I did not know what the missing pieces were.

Another twist on using iDS includes upgrading the Oracle Universal Installer GUI tool before applying a patch to the core product. OUI is essential for installing Oracle products, but it is fairly worthless when it comes to uninstalling the same. It is useful for seeing what you have installed (click Installed Products on the appropriate window), but it is somewhat less than useful when you have to scroll through a gazillion (new math, a large, undetermined number) obscure products just to find one or two specific items of interest. A little bit of history first, then back to the OUI tool.

As an example, with Developer 6.0, if you were deploying forms along with an application, all you needed to install was the forms runtime engine. The installation process added whatever it needed to that particular option, but overall, the list of installed items was small and easy to browse through. With Forms 6i, say goodbye to simply selecting the runtime engine. Your only option was to install everything related to Forms 6i, including Oracle Wallet Manager. Hello, Oracle. Why do you think I need Wallet Manager for a simple forms installation?

Unfortunately, that line of thinking at Oracle Corp. continued on to Oracle9i. For all intents and purposes, the forms services/web server that came with iDS was entirely sufficient for most people wanting to deploy forms over the web, but no, Oracle required users to install Oracle9i Application Server (for actual licensed use), which is its own little nightmare of a product when it comes to ease of use and installation. I'd like to think that my complaints and TARs (along with those from many other users) to Oracle about the egg it laid on iAS and iDS (with respect to forms and reports) helped to spur them to release the new and improved version of 9i forms, now known as "Oracle Application Server 10g, Forms and Reports Services 10g (9.0.4)," which is (finally) a standalone product that allows you to deploy forms over the web without the beast known as Oracle9i Application Server.

Coming back to the OUI tool - each of the products just mentioned includes OUI, and most of them are not the same version. When installing Oracle products on Solaris, the installer creates a file in the /var/opt/oracle directory which contains information (a file named oraInst.loc) regarding the location of the oraInventory directory. Personally, I prefer to keep Oracle product inventory information separated and let the version of OUI that came with a product stay associated with that product.

You can trick Oracle and the OUI into thinking that your current installation process is the first and only Oracle product on your machine by "dummying up" the oraInst.loc file. The only disadvantage to this process is the need to either fix/edit the file, or rename/copy a backup file to the actual filename (e.g., cp oraInst.loc.9idb oraInst.loc). This procedure would copy the version of oraInst.loc for the Oracle9i database installation to the actual filename and would be necessary before using the OUI against the Oracle9i database program files installation. However, it is nice having clean and (relatively) simple lists of installed products separated by the major/parent product.

The next article in this series will cover the new and improved 10g (9.0.4) identity-crisis-named-version of Forms and Reports. To make this article more of a standalone article, the methodology shown below is repeated again for your convenience.

A general outline of installation steps

Instead of just plowing into the reading of a 300-page installation guide and several release notes, if you look for an outline of steps to follow, your comprehension of what must be done is increased. Listed below is a general outline of steps that corresponds to the chapters in most installation guides.

  • Verify that hardware and software minimums are met or exceeded
  • Prepare or update the operating system
  • Create administrative/owner accounts and file structures
  • Reserve, specify, or designate disk space
  • Start the Oracle Universal Installer (OUI) and provide information as necessary
  • Perform post-installation tasks
  • Test your installation

The first four steps can be considered as pre-installation tasks, step five as THE installation task, and steps six and seven as post-installation tasks. When writing installation cookbooks (primarily for customers, but they work just as well for in-house users), I like to include an introduction along with a list of assumptions or standards, and include a list of references from which the information was drawn. The reference list is useful when you have to come back to the installation procedure and justify why you installed an OS patch cluster or needed to have a bigger disk installed.

Therefore, without further ado, here is a detailed, step-by-step installation cookbook for installing Oracle9i Developer Suite (9.0.2, including a patch) on a Sun Solaris platform.

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